Friday, June 17, 2016

WORK & PLAY


For the past week or so, I've been caught up in finishing the kitchen remodel which was begun and got mostly done last year. I've rearranged and added to the shelving over the butcher's block work table, installed a second LED light overhead, changed out a small LED work light over the sink, and fitted trim molding around the counter's backsplash area. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but each small task seemed to take hours…which probably says more about my carpentry competence than the actual work involved.

I still have to do trim around the window, and one of these days Mayladylove and I have to choose what sort of floor we're going to put down atop the subfloor. But that decision/job aside, next week it's on to the last phase of the bathroom redo…and when that's done, the great room—floor, walls, maybe even ceiling. 

But I'd like to take a brief break, so I'm thinking about playing hooky this morning to sneak away for a couple of hours of photography. Maybe at a little pond I like, which is just up the road, or perhaps I check out one of the nearby prairie patches—though flower-wise, not much will yet be going on there; prairies come into showier bloom later in the season.

Should my intended escape come about, I'll put up any good photos within the next few days. This post has pix I've taken recently around the yard—grab shots, made between the to-and-fro of work.
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Saturday, June 11, 2016

RED BUG & PICNIC TABLE


I saw this flame-red, quarter-inch-long bug climbing up a tiny stem amongst my walkway patch of chocolate mint, gleaming like a tiny jewel within the shadows. I have no idea what it is, though I'd guess some sort of aphid. But you gotta love such an astonishingly bright little creature…and I have enough chocolate mint about that I don't mind sharing.

It rained here most of yesterday, quite hard at times. Brief downpours that seemed almost tropical. I thought the river would be up more than it is. In fact, and in spite of all that rain, it has risen no more than a few inches and is merely murky but not muddy—fishable if I were of a mind to do so. 

Today it's supposed to be mostly sunny with a high somewhere north of 90˚F! Our hottest day of the year so far. Which is fine since we're going to a birthday party this afternoon for my delightful granddaughter, Anya Grace, who turned two last week. Perfect weather for celebrating a perfect girl!

On a side note, I expect the picnic table and benches I recently completed will get their first opportunity to be put to use. I delivered them to my daughter last weekend. A blog post or two back, I promised Gail I'd stick a photo of the end results in here when I finished. Well, I forgot to make a photo before delivery. My daughter, Lacy, snapped one for me after she'd done her painting. Trust me, her multiple coats of white paint makes them look way better. I am a carpenter's son…but I wholly lack my father's consummate skill and woodworking artistry. At best I'm adequately competent. 
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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A BIT OF SUN


It's sunny, though relatively cool…69˚F the last time I checked. Nevertheless there are several turtles—map turtles, I think—basking on a rock in the big riffle adjacent to the cottage. (Only two are visible in the photo above, but there's another, even smaller one, on the back side of the stone beyond the largest specimen.)

Getting a bit of sun sounds like a pretty good idea to me. I've been working inside all day—writing, fiddling with several household chores, warming up a bowl of soup for a late lunch. Not a full day's worth of labor, to be sure, but enough that I think I've honestly earned an hour's break on the chaise lounge—maybe even a snooze. 

Afterwards, there are 16 salvia plants, bought yesterday, which I need to get in the ground. And a whole bunch of stuff to water. 
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Monday, June 6, 2016

POWER PAINT


Yesterday was a lovely June day—sunny and warm in spite of a few passing showers too insignificant to count. Myladylove and I mostly spent the day moving plants around outside and doing general yard work. 

The only semi-disaster occurred indoors, while I was off making a quick run to the grocery for a few summer squash to cut up and combine with some sausage for our lunch stir-fry. 

In one of those labyrinthian fits of female reasoning, logically abstruse to us lesser males, Myladylove decided to fill the brief minutes of my absence by repainting a kitchen wall. She taped off cabinets, corners and sink counter, spread a tarp on the floor, readied brushes, roller, and paint pan. All she then had to do was stir the paint in its bucket—for which we have one of those paddle mixers on a rod which you chuck in an electric drill.  

So far, so good. Being the designated family painter, she's successfully done this plenty of times in the past. What she hadn't done was used any power drill other than the old variable-speed Craftsman. When she realized the Craftsman's battery needed recharging, she decided to use the high-speed, industrial grade Dewalt. A drill is a drill, right? 

Well, not exactly, as she subsequently discovered…while also learning why paint mixing is something best done outdoors 

Where the Craftsman putters along rather sedately—a retired schoolmarm in her Buick heading home from church—the Dewalt snaps from zero to screaming-fast in about a millisecond—a top-fuel dragster being driven by Don Garlits! 

An explosive power-surge that's magnified if you've moved the speed selector up from 1 to 2!

Alas, I was not there to actually witness what must have been a truly awesome spectacle. When I got back, much of the clean-up had already taken place. The tarp, subfloor, and Myladylove's lower legs and feet were still covered in blue-gray Valspar acrylic latex…Arctic Ice, if I remember the hue's specific name. There was paint dripping from various points and objects, clothing, and areas of personal anatomy. But according to the perpetrator, what I saw paled by comparison to what I would have found had I arrived only a few minutes earlier.

However, all's well that ends well. Everything that needed cleaning eventually got cleaned, including Myladylove's lower extremities. The subfloor's blue-gray splotches will one day be covered. Lunch turned into an early supper. And though about a third of the gallon of paint is gone, plenty enough remains to get the job done. We'll have another go at painting that kitchen wall at some later date.  

I also suppose a lesson or two was learned in the process. Maybe.

But just between me and you…I'd loved to have seen the look on Myladylove's face about two seconds after she squeezed the drill's trigger!                
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Friday, June 3, 2016

RECLAIMING MY VIEW


I've been waging war with honeysuckle almost since the day we moved here. Like another war, in a long-ago time and a land far, far away, this is ultimately an unwinnable conflict—at least from the Big Picture perspective.

But I don't care about winning the war, per se; this is personal! I care about winning battles. My battles. Fought on my modest acre of riverbank land. Battles I can and do win! All it takes is due diligence, sharp, loppers, a brush saw, and plenty of sweat and hard work. Plus a caviler disregard for self-induced bloodletting, twisted ankles, and the endless sticky spiderwebs netting themselves across your face, down your back, or in your hair—occasionally with their eight-legged builders attached. 

My latest victory is what you see in the photo. The tree-framed upstream view of the riffle directly in front of the cottage, as seen from the side yard. When I started you quite literally could not see the river. Watery glints at the most here and there through the wall of green honeysuckle leaves. 

I know it doesn't look like much. But believe me, it didn't come easy. Nearly a day's worth of labor…er, battle…in mid-80˚ temps. Perhaps a dozen feet, plus another also-cleared 50 feet you can't see to the right of the above image. Sixty feet total.  

A view worth fighting and lopping, sawing and sweating, and spitting spiderwebs for! Hooray! 

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

AN ORDINARY MORNING



I've just tossed out scoops of cracked corn for the paired Canada geese who call this stretch of river home. At the moment the birds are standing on a gravel bar fifty yards upstream…but I've alerted them with a wave and whistle. They won't exactly come when I call, but the irresistible notion has now been implanted. In a few minutes they'll float downstream and climb up the bank for breakfast.

I've also deposited a bit of corn between the cracks in the deck's planks for the little gray vole—"meadow mouse" to some, though technically they're not mice, but a mouse relative—who lives somewhere underneath. Voles have short tails, rotund bodies, and small rounded ears. I think they're cute, though Myladylove disagrees. At any rate I try and feed the little creature regularly, with a thought to keeping it safe by helping minimize its exposure to stalking cats and aerial-attacking hawks.

The great blue heron has been wading about the big riffle in front of the cottage, trying to provide for its own morning meal. So far I haven't witnessed any fishing success—but then I've not been watching all that much, and it doesn't take but a moment for the bird to nail a minnow and have it summarily swallowed.

As usual there's a plethora of squirrels at the feeders. Seven as best I can tell, though possibly more—they're hard to count, being busytailed blobs of perpetual energy.  

A female red-bellied woodpecker is investigating the rotting stump I keep for a seed holder near the front door. Red-bellieds, downies, and pileateds are all abundant here, and at least one or two will be part of the feeder crowd practically every minute of any day.          

I'm getting ready to head to Lowe's for a couple of boxes of deck screws to finish off a couple more benches for the yard. Last week I built a picnic table plus two unattached benches for my daughter—though they're yet to be delivered. But I was so pleased with the benches that went with her table that I decided I'd modify the design a bit and build three or four along the same lines to scatter around the yard. I'm always looking for a handy place to sit and watch the river. 

That's about it so far as a riverbank report goes. An ordinary morning. The temperature is supposed to climb to 85˚F today, with possible showers this afternoon. More summer than spring. But nice weather for this Memorial Day weekend.        

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SPRING UNCERTAIN



The calendar claims spring has sprung. I'm beginning to wonder.

Yes, the grass is lush and green. Birds are singing. Fish are biting. And here along the river, throughout the corridor woods, the trees' verdant canopy of supple new leaves is already well on its way to filling out.

But yesterday morning we woke up to a heavy frost. One of those scrape-your-windshield deals that lasted until well after sunrise. And many of the perky garden flowers, so bright and colorful the day before, were now dispirited, sadly wilted, with more than a few fatally smitten by the night's unseasonably low temperature. 

It was a plain chilly 34˚F when I got up at 5:30 a.m. And while we received only frost, folks in the northern part of Ohio had an unwelcome dose of snow! 

Egads! Thank God there's still plenty of firewood remaining. At this rate we may be burning the stove until July.    
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